U2 album sales near 500,000 in U.S.: manager

Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:35am EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The new U2 album is on track to exceed industry forecasts by selling almost half a million copies during its first week on sale in the United States, the band's manager said on Monday.

"No Line on the Horizon," the first superstar release of the year, went on sale last Tuesday in the United States and a day earlier everywhere else.

"The first week, we think it'll be very close to half a million, a little under," Paul McGuinness told Reuters, following a U2 radio broadcast at a Hollywood record label.

Preliminary data issued last week indicated that the album's first-week tally in the United States could reach between 400,000 and 450,000 copies -- a far cry from the 840,000-unit start for the band's previous album, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," in November 2004.

But McGuinness, who has steered U2 for almost 31 years, said the sales decline was "a sign of the times" amid the recording industry's decadelong decline.

"And what people in this country don't realize is that the American industry is collapsing at a far quicker rate than in the rest of the world. In Europe, sales of physical material are holding up far better. They're in decline, but not as rapidly as in America."

Already this year, total U.S. album sales are off 12 percent from the year-ago period, according to tracking firm Nielsen SoundScan.

He expected "No Line on the Horizon" would debut at No. 1 in 40 countries, becoming U2's seventh chart-topper in the United States. Official U.S. sales data will be released on Wednesday. The band is signed to Universal Music Group, which is controlled by Vivendi SA.

As for other major recent rock releases in the United States, AC/DC's "Black Ice" opened with 784,000 copies in October, and Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" with 722,000 copies in June.   Continued...

<p>Bono of U2 perform with the band at Forham University in New York during a broadcast of ABC's "Good Morning America" in this publicity photo released to Reuters March 6, 2009. The performance coincided with the release of U2's 12th album "No Line on the Horizon". QUALITY FROM SOURCE REUTERS/Ida Mae Astute/ABC/Handout</p>